BRUNSWICK — When Stephen Savoie graduated from college and wanted to get a job in composites manufacturing, he had to move to Vermont – the jobs simply weren’t in Maine. Decades later, he oversees a state-of-the-art composite facility newly opened at Brunswick Landing’s TechPlace, intended to draw businesses and workers to manufacturing jobs in Maine.

Composites, in their most basic form, are a combination of materials that together are stronger than the individual materials themselves, such as reinforced plastic (fiberglass, carbon fiber), which can be used to manufacture items from bridges and bathtubs to airplanes.

“It’s my dream … to have a tech center in every region in Maine,” Gov. Janet Mills said at an open house at the facility on Wednesday. The state has the workforce, the motivation, the resources, the raw materials to bring people to Maine, to stay in Maine and expand in Maine, she said. Mills added that it should be every young person’s dream that after graduation they will either move to or stay here, and that jobs like this in manufacturing, research and development will help that become a reality.

The new facility is temperature and humidity controlled layup room and features a room-sized oven capable of manufacturing aerospace-quality components and other large pieces. Layup is a composites manufacturing process in which the layers that make up the composite material are applied by hand.

“It’s a very, very accurate process,” Savoie said.

“This is the largest facility of its kind in the Northeast,” said Steve Levesque, executive director of the Midcoast Regional Redevelopment Authority, which oversees the redevelopment of the former naval base that is now Brunswick Landing. “Any company in Maine can use this facility,” he said, although TechPlace companies get preference.

The TechPlace building is 95,000 square feet and houses 38 early stage manufacturing companies. As businesses “graduate” and move on to larger, permanent spaces, other tenants take their place, director Kristine Logan said.

“It’s doing what it’s supposed to be doing,” she said.

Among its tenants are companies such as Ocean Renewable Power Co., which develops marine renewable energy technology, and Atayne, which makes outdoor and active apparel from recycled materials. Several aviation-related companies also use TechPlace’s amenities and space.

The composites facility is especially important for startups that may not be able to afford their own $1 million composites layup facility.

When Savoie first moved back to Maine, he said it was to pursue a startup that ultimately failed for that very reason – the capital involved was just too much. But now, that should no longer prevent composites companies from succeeding in Maine.

Students at Harpswell Coastal Academy will also learn how to use the facility, which is intended to engage and train the generation that will one day lead innovation in the state.

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